The Trolley Problem

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THE TROLLEY PROBLEM
Jessica Fowler
Baker College Online
HUM 401A

In “The Trolley Problem” two scenarios are given to the reader. The first scenario is that the reader is a passerby that happens to be standing near a switch that could change the course of the trolley. The trolley is no longer in control and if it continues, it will kill the five people that are standing on the tracks ahead. Over to the side, there is another track that only has one person on it. The reader is given the choice to pull the switch the change the trolleys course onto the track that will only kill one person or to let the trolley remain on course and kill five people. The second scenario is that the reader is now standing on a bridge over the tracks and next to you is a stranger that is large enough to stop the trolley. In order for that to happen, the reader would have to push the stranger off of the bridge and onto the tracks. This would kill the stranger but save the five lives standing on the tracks ahead.

Many people have different answers as to what they would do in this situation. If we looked at this from the ethical view of a Kantian, they would say to “act for the right reason with the right motive.” (Wall, 2008, pp. 35-37) A Kantian would know that it is not right to kill a person, but it would be like going through the motions for them. I believe in this situation that they would push the stranger off of the bridge to save the lives of the five people. I believe this because they do not have a strong emotional connection to the situation. A Kantian believes that it is their duty to do whatever they can to benefit the people. Making this decision would be rather easy for them; the right thing to do is to sacrifice the life of one person to save the lives of five.

Utilitarian’s would also agree with the Kantian, that it is right to save the lives of five people and sacrifice the life of one. “The greatest good or less evil for the most people” is what the ethical...
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